Posted in: Broadband Video Companies, Deals, Funding & Acquisitions, Internet HDTV, Internet Video Producers, News, Video Sharing & Video Clips, Video on Demand by Dave Parrack on July 13, 2009

HBO and Cinemax have joined the likes of TBS, TNT, and Starz in providing content for Comcast and Time Warner’s new joint venture, TV Everywhere. Existing cable subscribers will soon be able to watch fresh new content On Demand Online.

Moving To The Web

Cable and network television companies are slowly starting to realize the potential of online television. Some are resistant to the change in viewing habits currently taking hold, mainly because the Web constitutes a sector of the market they don’t control. There’s also the fact that ad revenue on the Internet is generally a lot lower than on television.

But slowly and surely, cable companies and the big U.S. television networks are fathoming that they need to get on the boat at this early stage or risk being left behind at the port. Hulu has NBC, Fox, and ABC on board as well as smaller networks such as Bravo, PBS, E!, and Comedy Central. And others are finding their own way online.

TV Everywhere

Last month saw two of the major cable companies, Comcast and Time Warner, unveiled a new upcoming service called TV Everywhere. This constitutes a set of guidelines for moving cable TV content on to the Web. The only catch being that you can only access that content it if you already subscribe to cable TV from one of the two companies.

TV Everywhere states that the cable companies do want to head for the Web, making content accessible across a wider range of platforms than currently. Existing subscribers will not have to pay any additional fees to access the programming online. But in the same vein as Epix, the joint venture between Lionsgate, Paramount, and MGM, there will be no opportunity for others to join in the fun.

On Demand Online

Comcast and Time Warner is due to test out the system, with 5,000 existing cable subscribers participating in the On Demand Online, due to launch in the next few weeks. The lucky chosen ones will be given access to 750 hours of programming each month. This was already going to include content from Starz, TBS, and TNT, but now two new partners have signed up as well.

HBO and Cinemax

HBO and Cinemax today joined the fray, both offering programming to the On Demand Online trial. HBO will contribute full-length episodes of popular series such as Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos. While Cinemax will offer movies such as Transformers, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, Shrek the Third, Kung Fu Panda, The Bourne Ultimatum, Juno, Mamma Mia!, and Burn After Reading.

Conclusions

This is a good, and somewhat necessary move on the part of the cable companies. I hope the 5,000 trial participants have a good experience so that the service is expanded in the future. However, why is it being limited to existing cable subscribers? Why wouldn’t the cable companies want to offer others the chance to access their programming via either a subscription-based model or ad-based model?

On Demand Online is definitely a positive step in the right direction but the cable companies are going to have to accept the Internet and online video in a bigger way altogether if they want to evolve with the rest of us.

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